Esky looks at school funding changes

ESCANABA — The Escanaba School Board discussed the School Finance Research Collaborative during its regular meeting Monday evening. The collaborative, a research team consisting of a diverse group of business leaders and education experts from Metro Detroit to the Upper Peninsula, is reexamining the way Michigan schools are funded. Superintendent Coby Fletcher read from the research’s resolution Monday.

The Escanaba school board is looking to possibly back this research, which could fundamentally change the way a school district in Michigan is funded by the state. Approval or disapproval from the board of the School Finance Research Collaborative will be determined at its next committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 8.

“We would just be sending the message to the state saying ‘We really feel strongly that this is something that we should be looking at,'” said Fletcher of the board’s possible backing.

Through the use of various methodologies, the School Finance Research Collaborative is looking to identify the resources needed for all Michigan students to meet the state standards, including identifying a base cost figure on what it costs to educate a child in Michigan, explained Fletcher.

According to the School Finance Research Collaborative website, www.fundmischools.org, “Our goal is to collect the best, most complete and most accurate information on what it truly costs to educate our students and to use that data to make recommendations on how the state can better serve all students, regardless of their location, circumstances or challenges.”

Fletcher noted the research group is using the multiple methodologies to estimate the cost of education using key factors such as pre-school, poverty, career/technical education, English language learners, at-risk students, and schools that are geographically isolated.

In addition, research team members are working with 20 educator panels involving more than 240 Michigan educators including teachers, teacher leaders, principals, superintendents, school business officials, special education directors and other specialists to help determine the needs and resources in the various school districts across Michigan, explained Fletcher. Results from the data collected from these panels and educators should be released in early 2018, added Fletcher. With these tallies in hand, lawmakers can use the numbers to determine what it costs to educate a student, so legislators can adjust and plan accordingly to how much state funded money schools should receive.

In other business, the board discussed its upcoming organizational meeting on Jan. 8.

During this meeting, the board will reorganize and nominate members to be elected as president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer.

In other action, the board approved the hiring of multiple positions throughout the district. Michelle Richer will serve as the new two-hour cook helper at the Escanaba Upper Elementary, Chris Ogren will head the girl’s tennis team, Lyndsey Rogers and Jayna Rae LaVigne will coach the Escanaba gymnastics team.

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